Lyric Theatre presents "Working"
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The movers and shakers

Lyric Theatre’s spring production hits the stage

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The cast of “Working” will take the Butz-Carruth Recital Hall stage this Friday.

By Austin Lindner | The Echo

The Butz-Carruth Recital Hall stage is set for the stories that often go unheard. This weekend’s performance of the musical “Working” is not about the stars that glide through headlines or the names we read in history books. This musical is about ordinary people, the men and women who often fall between the cracks.

Their words, hopes and dreams hang from floor to ceiling on the walls of the Recital Hall, ready to be voiced by the cast.

“Working” is written by Stephen Schwartz, based off the Studs Terkel book, “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” Pulling excerpts from this book, the musical features verbatim monologues taken from interviews with real workers across America in the 1970s.

While the music matches the upbeat Broadway stylings of Schwartz’s other works, such as “Wicked” and “Godspell,” it is the source material of this musical that sets it apart.

“Working is a different kind of musical because there’s no cohesive plot,” said senior cast member Josh Duch. “It’s more like a commentary on the American working class, from white collar to blue collar to every collar in between. The characters were real people and their stories are being brought to light.”

Taylor Lyric Theatre’s production of “Working” has been in the works since October, when the show was cast and the students began learning the music. After memorizing most of the music by Christmas break, the cast of 20 students and faculty members devoted all of J-term to learning choreography and blocking, meeting most days over the term.

“The rehearsal schedule has been crazy busy, but only because we had such a short amount of time to complete all of the staging and leave room for the characters to develop,” said sophomore cast member and properties master Erin Davis. “It’s astounding what you can do in only a month if you work hard.”

The show is directed by Conor Angell, assistant professor of music and head of Lyric Theatre. Junior Conner Reagan served as technical director with alumnus Sara Bailey (’09) as production manager. The set, a simple, gray platform made of crossing stairs, was designed by Taylor alumnus Ryan Maloney (’13).

Strips of paper containing quotes from the musical serve as the backdrop of the Recital Hall stage. Junior scenic artists Kaitlyn Weaver and Natalie Halleen spent hours creating these decorations with a handful of Sharpie markers.

While Lyric Theatre is a part of the music department, this production of “Working” represented a collaboration between the theatre and music departments, with many theatre students crossing over to get involved in the production. This merging of talent also sets the stage for Taylor’s future crossover Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theatre.

The rehearsal schedule was dense and rehearsals were long, but the cast of “Working” is excited to share the heartbeat of their show—the hopes, dreams and insecurities from real people across the country.

“I really like how each character in the show illustrates how they are more than just their profession,” said freshman cast member Lauren Vock.

According to Vock, many of the jobs highlighted in the show aren’t usually considered impressive or admirable, like truck drivers and cleaning staff. They may not require a college degree or years of study. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are still people with struggles and aspirations. And they all are proud of what they do.

“Each character may or may not have wanted the jobs they have right now, but they needed something to support themselves and their families,” Duch added. “A plan doesn’t always go accordingly, but the important part is that they’re alive.”

“Working” will be performed on Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Butz-Carruth Recital Hall. Tickets are $10.

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